At the beginning of 1958 Fr. Gerald Walker, OFM Cap., Provincial Minister of the Detroit Capuchins, sent a definitive report on the life and virtues of Fr. Solanus Casey to the General Superiors in Rome.
The Capuchin Minister General responded with great admiration for Solanus and called him, “an extraordinary example of a true Capuchin, and a replica of St. Francis.” His tribute confirmed the many reports about the outstanding virtues of Father Solanus which began to come in from people everywhere.
So many people expressed a wish to preserve the memory of Father Solanus that, in July of 1960, the Father Solanus Guild was organized with the approval of the Provincial Minister of the Capuchin Province of St. Joseph.
In 1966, prompted by the urgent appeals of the Guild Members and many Detroiters, the Capuchin Provincial sent to Rome an account of favors attributed to the intercession of Father Solanus.
Capuchin Postulator General Fr. Bernardine of Siena appointed Fr. Paschal Siler, OFM Cap. to be Vice Postulator for the Cause of Canonization. He began to collect information about Fr. Solanus’ life and work from people who had known him personally.
The first biography, The Porter of St. Bonaventure’s was written by James P. Derum and published in 1968. Additional biographies have since been published and have spread the fame of Fr. Solanus far and wide.
Br. Leo Wollenweber, OFM Cap. succeeded Fr. Paschal and continued the research.
The Archbishop of Detroit John Cardinal Dearden, was asked to initiate the Cause for Canonization of Father Solanus Casey and he published a request that all writings attributed to Father Solanus be sent in. By 1980 these were assembled, typed, and bound into four volumes. After examination by two theologians Solanus’ writings were declared to be free of any doctrinal error.
The new Archbishop of Detroit, Edmund C. Szoka, opened the Diocesan Investigation on the life and virtues of the Servant of God in 1983. There were 53 witnesses, priests, religious, and laity who gave sworn testimony attesting to the extraordinary virtues of Father Solanus. They all had vivid recollections of his kindly concern for their problems and needs. Completed in 1984, the testimonies were presented to the Congregation for Causes of Saints.
The exhumation and examination of Father Solanus’ body took place on July 8, 1987. His body was then clothed in a new habit, placed in a metal casket, and re-interred in the north transept of St. Bonaventure Church.
On October 10, 1992 the three-volume position, or study on his virtues, was presented to the Congregation for the Causes for Saints for their review. On April 7, 1995 the panel of theologians gave it an affirmative decision. The Cardinals and Bishops in the Congregation met with Pope John Paul II on July 11, 1995 for the promulgation of the decree of “Heroic Virtue” and bestowed on Fr. Solanus the title of “Venerable.” This is the most important step for sainthood, however it is only after beatification that public devotion is allowed. For that, the Church looks for evidence of at least one true miracle. We pray now for the beatification of Fr. Solanus so that his life may inspire people everywhere.
The Positio (pronounced puh-ZEET-see-oh) documentation of the Cause was studied and approved by the Congregation for Causes of Saints in 1995. On July 11 of that year St. Pope John Paul II promulgated the Decree of Heroic Virtue for Fr. Solanus and declared him “Venerable.”
One miraculous cure attributed to the intercession of Venerable Solanus and approved by the Congregation will advance the Cause to Beatification and the title of “Blessed.” While Fr. Solanus would officially be a saint after beatification, public devotion would be limited to a local area. After full sainthood or canonization, the Church deems one worthy of public veneration by the universal Church.
On May 19, 2009, Br. Leo and Br. Richard met with the new Archbishop Allen Vigneron at his office to give him an update on the Cause of Venerable Solanus Casey. The Archbishop expressed his sincere interest and pledged his help for the Cause. He believes it is important for the Archdiocese of Detroit and all our people.
When a report of a miraculous healing attributed to the intercession of Venerable Solanus becomes ready, the official investigation might take place at the Archdiocesan Tribunal under the authority of Archbishop Vigneron. He is quite anxious, as we all are, to see the Cause proceed whenever we receive a report of a certain healing that seems to be without any medical intervention. We are most grateful for Archbishop Vigneron’s interest and encouragement.
After the death of Br. Leo in October 2012, Br. Richard Merling and Fr. Larry Webber were appointed to the office of the Vice Postulator. They continue the work of researching possible cases.
Visiting the United States from her native Panama, Paula Medina Zarate made a pilgrimage to the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit. While praying for the intentions she had brought with her from Panama, Paula felt a voice telling her to pray also for her own needs. Long-suffering from a congenital, incurable skin disease called ichthyosis, Paula prayed at the tomb of Blessed Solanus Casey for intercession to cure her of this disease. Immediately, Paula felt an intense heat throughout her body. She retired to her guest room at the Monastery and the “scales fell away in sheets.” She was cured of ichthyosis. Doctors and specialists could not identify a medical or scientific cause for this healing. An investigation was opened by the Cause for Canonization, and the reported favor was sent to Rome.
On May 4, the Holy Father Pope Francis received in audience His Eminence Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., prefect for the Congregation of the Causes of Saints. During this audience, the Holy Father authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the following decree regarding Paula’s miracle, attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Solanus Casey, born November 25, 1870 and died July 31, 1957. This momentous announcement celebrates the second American-born male to be beatified. On November 18, a Mass of Beatification was held before 70,000 attendees at Ford Field in Detroit. Paula was present and carried a relic of Blessed Solanus to the altar at the conclusion of Mass.
Fr. Edward Foley, Capuchin was named the new Vice Postulator for the Cause of Canonization for Blessed Solanus Casey. Fr. Ed is a respected Capuchin scholar and preacher and Duns Scotus Professor Emeritus of Spirituality and Professor of Liturgy and Music at Catholic Theological Union.